I will start with the main event, and I am not talking about the middleweight championship fight between Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor and Cory "The Next Generation" Spinks which was billed as such. Last night in Memphis, TN, the undercard matchup between Kelly Pavlik and Edison "Pantera" Miranda saved this particular HBO championship boxing card.
Harkening back to the middleweight golden age of the ’80s when names like Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran dazzled us, Pavlik and Miranda engaged in a brawl that has fight of the year honors written all over it. Going into the fight, the question was simple: who would be able to withstand the force of their opponent’s potent right hand? The answer: Kelly Pavlik, Kelly Pavlik, Kelly Pavlik. Yes, the answer was that redundant and clear.
From the opening bell, it was obvious that Pavlik was not going to sit back and allow Miranda to set the tone of the fight. Pavlik initiated most exchanges, realizing that Miranda was not as effective returning fire as he was at initiating it. He had done his homework, and was breezing through his test with ease – bouncing stiff jabs and jarring rights off of the seemingly befuddled Miranda in the center of the ring as well as along the ropes.
Undeterred, Miranda survived the early onslaught laid upon him by Pavlik and awakened from his slumber in the third round with a jarring right hand volley (three rights in a row) that momentarily stunned Pavlik. However, round three was the fight’s "moment of truth," answering the question I raised earlier. While Miranda showed that he could briefly halt Pavlik with his right hand, Pavlik showed that he could clearly hurt Miranda with his.
And that’s what happened to Miranda in round six, as Pavlik launched a perfectly-timed right hand bomb on the swollen jaw of his tough Colombian opponent. Despite referee Steve Smoger’s unusual handling of the first knockdown of Miranda, giving "Pantera" an unusually long time to replace his missing mouthpiece, nothing alter the revelation that occurred in round three. Miranda could not take what Kelly Pavlik had to give, and was subsequently battered into submission in the ensuing round.
This impressive seventh round TKO victory for the "pride of Youngstown, Ohio" will hopefully lead to a middleweight championship showdown with Jermain Taylor – the winner of the "in name only" main event.
Going into the main event, most fans and media knew that Taylor would be in for a potentially difficult fight, based on Spinks’ penchant for "stinking out the joint" due to his overly-defensive style. That being said, I don’t think anyone expected to see a fight (and I use that word generously) that would put fear into the hearts of the chemists that manufacture Lunesta®. I will spare you the details of a round-by-round summary, because thinking about the rounds may induce sleep and prevent me from finishing this post.
In his fourth successful defense of the linear middleweight championship, Jermain Taylor has done little to galvanize his supporters or to silence his detractors – a list that grows after each spotty title defense. On the surface, Taylor seemingly has everything you would want to see in a superstar boxer – a "TV-friendly" smile and persona, Olympian pedigree, a Hall of Fame trainer, and knockout power in both hands. However, as he continues to fight, a troubling question arises – can he really fight?
That question seems ludicrous when you consider that Jermain Taylor fared better than anyone had in years in his draw against Winky Wright or that he more than held his own in 24 rounds with first-ballot Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Yet and still, the question lingers…can Jermain Taylor really fight? A fight against (now) number one contender Kelly Pavlik will likely provide the answer.